The Strand Hotel in 1895, along the banks of the Rangoon River
The Strand Hotel in 2009
The Strand opened in 1901. It was built by the British entrepreneur John Darwood but later acquired by the Sarkies brothers, who owned a number of luxry hotels in the Far East, including the Raffles Hotel in Singapore and the Eastern & Oriental Hotel in Penang, Malaysia. During the colonial period, The Strand was one of the most luxurious hotels in the British Empire with a clientele of exclusively whites. The Sarkies brothers sold The Strand to Rangoon restaurateur Peter Bugalar Aratoon and Ae Amovsie in 1925. The hotel underwent a major renovation in 1937 and then in 1941, during World War II, following Japanese occupation of Burma, the hotel was used briefly to quarter Japanese troops. The following year, the Strand's ownership was transferred to the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. For the first time in 1945, since The Strand's establishment, the Burmese became part of the hotel's clientele. After Burma achieved independence in 1948, the hotel was neglected by post-colonial governments. In 1963, The Strand Hotel was bought by the Burma Economic Development Corporation, which poorly maintained it. After the 1988 coup d'état, The Strand was sold in 1989 to Bernard Pe-Win, a Burmese businessman, who formed an alliance with Adrian Zecha and a group of investors who formed The Strand Hotel International.
Following a total renovation, The Strand reopened in 1993 as an all-suite, top-of-the range boutique hotel. Its teak and marble floors, mahogany furniture, and canopied beds complement original pieces, like period bathroom fixtures. But unlike the other grand old hotels in the region, the Strand's restoration remained true to its architectural past, and it has no new wing, and no swimming pool or tennis courts.It is now operated by GCP Hospitality.
The hotel is listed on the Yangon City Heritage List. Since the beginning, it was regarded as “the finest hostelry east of the Suez” and “patronised by royalty, nobility and distinguished personages". In 1993, the hotel was for the first time listed among the Select Members of The Most Famous Hotels in the World. In 2003, Andreas Augustin published the first history of the hotel, after years of extensive research.